The Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court dismissed the appellate complaint of the Committee Against Torture


08 July 2015

Today, 8 July 2015 года, judicial panel of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court dismissed the appellate complaint of the Committee Against Torture and upheld the decision of judge of the Sovetsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod Olga Tonenkova who declared legal the citation of the Nizhny Novgorod region Prosecutor Oleg Ponasenko. As we have previously reported, based on this citation the Ministry of Justice of RF included the Committee Against Torture in the list of non-commercial organizations «performing the functions of a foreign agent».

In the course of today’s court session the parties once again stated their positions, which remained unaltered. Lawyer of the Committee Against Torture Dmitry Kazakov once again emphasized that the organization’s activity is aimed exclusively at assisting the state policy, not at its changing. He also focused the court’s attention at the fact that in the course of investigation of the complaint of the Committee Against Torture against the citation of the Nizhny Novgorod Prosecutor Oleg Ponasenko the court of the first instance did not evaluate every type of organization’s activity, which were labeled as political by Mr Ponasenko. His opinion was also supported by Agora (recognized as an undesirable organization) association lawyer Ramil Akhmetgaliyev, who emphasized that some types of activity performed by members of the Committee Against Torture in a personal capacity were labeled by the court of the first instance as activities performed on behalf of organization, which is definitely wrong.

Having supported the arguments of his colleagues Chairman of the Committee Against Torture Igor Kalyapin summarized: «Honourable jury, I will not take your time repeating the arguments of my colleagues, I fully agree with them. I will allow myself only a short summary. The Committee Against Torture stated at every opportunity that it fights against the torture practice which exists in our country despite the Constitution, the Federal laws and duty regulations. To the credit of our legislators and management of law-enforcement agencies it has to be mentioned that there have never been attempts to legalize torture in Russia. Torture in the Russian Federation have always been considered a grave crime, and the state policy have always been aimed at its prevention. That is why labeling of our activity as aiming at changing the state policy, according to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Nizhny Novgorod region, is quite absurd, in opinion.

Honorable jury, in my practical activity I have always tried to study and understand the view of my opponents in good faith, no matter how absurd their arguments were. I would like to report that I tried to see the view of the prosecutors this time, too. I tried to find some collateral effect in our work, some social or political function that we probably perform unintentionally.

And I think that our organization indeed had such auxiliary function. Since I strongly suspect that this speech of mine is its «last statement», I would like to elaborate on this auxiliary function.

All fifteen years of our existence we have been demonstrated to our citizens with specific examples that arguments and conflicts with public servants, state authority bodies, even such heated ones as related to illegal violence, could and should be resolved not through barricades or protest rallies but in the court room. We have always, both formally and informally, advocated that all the issues and conflicts were resolved within the legal framework. At the same time we tried, at least, to the best of our ability, to develop and improve the legal mechanisms, enabling citizens to stand upon their rights in a civilized way, through legal proceedings.

That is what I was working for in the Public Monitoring Commission, in the Commission for Human Rights under the Governor, in the Presidential Council. That is the reason why our organization developed and published tens of thousands of brochures and reference books, that aimed at enhancing the level of legal knowledge among all the categories of Russian citizens.

Metaphorically speaking, we have always tried to take the people away from the streets and bring them to the court room. That is the function of our organization that the Prosecutor’s Office labeled a «function of a foreign agent», thus stating that the state policy in our country is aimed at some different direction. As for me, I have always thought that this is not the case. But the decision is up to you…».

In their turn, the representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office stated that in their opinion the ruling of the Sovetsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod is legal.

After about ten minutes of conferring the judicial panel passed a ruling: dismiss the appellate complaint of the Committee Against Torture, declare legal the ruling of the Sovetsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod dated 3 April 2015.

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